The Bengals added many talented players in the 2018 NFL draft and in undrafted free agency. The biggest question about some of these players is how could they possibly all fit onto the team. If the Bengals are lucky, a lot of these players will stand out and make an already tough decision even tougher. Every NFL team deals with injuries and with that in mind, the Bengals need to make sure that they are as deep as possible at every position as you never know when the depth will be needed. Last season the Bengals had many players who were on the practice squad at some point and ended up playing regular season snaps. That was most true at linebacker with Hardy Nickerson and Brandon Bell, but it wasn’t only at linebacker where practice squad guys got promoted to the roster.
With that said, here are five Bengals rookies on the roster bubble heading into training camp.
1. Logan Woodside
One of the most compelling battles of training camp is for the Bengals backup quarterback position. The Bengals have Jeff Driskel who has been a backup player behind AJ McCarron for the past two seasons. They also added Matt Barkley, a career journeyman via free agency, and drafted Logan Woodside the quarterback from Toledo in the seventh round. It is unclear how the Bengals view any of these players at this point, however Barkley is the only one of the three who has real NFL game experience. Driskel offers some intriguing traits and Woodside flashed a solid floor without a ton of potential in college. The backup QB is a battle to watch and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Woodside moved to the practice squad in his rookie year.
2. Auden Tate
The Bengals’ seventh round wide receiver was the talk of the rookie minicamp with his impressive ability to win on jump balls. However, if he can’t be a contributor on special teams or in any other way, a more versatile player may beat him out for a roster spot. If he can play special teams well then that will definitely help his potential for the roster. He will also be hoping another player can win the returning duties over Alex Erickson as that would potentially open up another roster spot at wide receiver. The real question is how much the Bengals will value a guy whose only real way to distinguish himself is as a jump-ball specialist. Is that worthy of a roster spot on its own?
3. Rod Taylor
Taylor has some versatility having played several different spots along the offensive line in college. The Bengals love this kind of flexibility, especially in later round offensive lineman. However, it looks like early on, Taylor is more of a practice squad candidate who the Bengals can develop. Of course, if Taylor really balls out at training camp and during the preseason you’d have to hope the Bengals give him a shot at the right guard spot.
4. Darius Phillips
Phillips actually looks like he has a good shot at the roster and that is because of the different abilities he brings to the table. He is an intriguing prospect as a cornerback with solid athleticism and a penchant for making big plays in college. He was a good returner and that showed with the 14 touchdowns he scored throughout college and his solid returning averages. The Bengals brought in several returners and will hopefully have a battle to allow the best player the first crack at the job. Phillips’ versatility and potential as a playmaker make it look like he has a good shot at the roster.
5. Chris Worley
The Bengals may carry an extra linebacker during the four weeks of Vontaze Burfict’s PED suspension and no one should be surprised if that ends up being former Ohio State linebacker Chris Worley. The Ohio native played for one of the best defenses in the country in college and flashed solid awareness and ability to diagnose and flow to plays. The Bengals raved about him during the rookie minicamp and he could take the spot that Hardy Nickerson held for parts of last season as the final linebacker. He also needs to show a special teams prowess to really contend for a roster spot.